July 23, 2018

The TGS NFL Playoff Pool – Conference Championships

And then there were four.

Jacksonville, New England, Minnesota, and Philadelphia are all that remain of the NFL season. (I bet you didn’t call that back in August.) Following a week with a shootout in Pittsburgh, a blowout in Foxboro, the #1 seed in the NFC – playing at home – winning as an underdog, and, of course, this, we are back with Round 3 of the TGS NFL Playoff Pool. Here’s how we did in the divisional round (and here, the wild card round) and here are the overall standings so far:

1. Lindsey Schoon – 20 points (10 / 10… two perfect weeks!)

2. Austin Narber – 13 points (6 / 7)

3. Jake Ohlde – 12 points (8 / 4)

T-4. Spencer Hughes and Matthias Schwartzkopf – 11 points (4 / 7 and 6 / 5)

T-6. Jacqueline Cordova and Shaun Curran – 10 points (2 / 8 and 4 / 6)

8. Nicole Gustafson – 4 points (DNP / 4)

Lindsey is running away with this so far with her perfect score. Can anyone catch her? Will anyone really try to by making some risky picks? Let’s find out. This week is worth 10 points, just like the first two, but each participant is free to assign those points between the games as they wish (with a minimum of two points per game). You pick the game right, you get the points. Here we go:

Lindsey Schoon

6 points: New England over Jacksonville

I’m still on the Jacksonville bandwagon, but I got a perfect record to defend here. Come on, what’s a girl to do? Just like I knew Kansas was going to come back and win that basketball game at West Virginia on Monday night, some things you just can’t bet against and a Brady-Belichick led Patriots squad making it to the Super Bowl is among them.

4 points: Minnesota over Philadelphia

The Vikings defense has been amazing all year, but this will be their biggest test yet – and in what should be one of, if not the, toughest road environments we’ve seen all post-season. HOWEVER, a “back-up” QB? The Super Bowl being in Minny? That Diggs catch? It’s kind of starting to feel like this was already predetermined by Odin himself. SKOL!

Austin Narber

8 points: New England over Jacksonville

Jacksonville actually matches up with New England pretty well on paper. But this feels like one of those games where the plucky underdogs get humbled by the better coaching staff. As long as the Belichick-Brady machine continues to operate, the Patriots will always have this advantage. I get it, the Jaguars have the impenetrable defense and a ton of momentum—and the Patriots have had a pretty quiet season for being a dynasty—but The Hoodie is always a step ahead. Doug Marrone and Blake Bortles are not going to be the guys who finally outmaneuver him.

2 points: Minnesota over Philadelphia

It’s hard to think of this Vikings team in any other way except that they are destined to win the Super Bowl. Whether or not they’re good enough to beat any of the three teams left still remains to be seen, but this is storybook stuff. Between last week’s miracle finish, the Super Bowl being played in their home stadium (HAVE YOU HEARD?), and Case Keenum being the captain of the ship for all but one game, there is no explanation other than destiny. From an Xs and Os standpoint, you won’t find more of a tossup. However, I do think Minnesota has a decided advantage in their ability to limit Philadelphia’s success on the ground and make Nick Foles throw downfield, which he doesn’t do very well. As it usually does at this point in the season, I think this comes down to the better quarterback. Right now, incredibly, that’s Case Keenum.

Jake Ohlde

8 points: New England over Jacksonville

The Jags are the best story in football right now, but they finally run out of magic in Foxboro. Their defense gets to Brady early but the Pats make adjustments and do just enough defensively against Bortles, Fournette and company to advance to the Super Bowl.

2 points: Minnesota over Philadelphia

Despite the early Minnesota -3.5 line, this feels like a legitimate tossup to me. Philly is at home and that defense is going to be trouble for Case Keenum. Fortunately for him, I think Nick Foles manages even less against the Vikings’ own defense in what turns out to be a defensive struggle for most of the game. Lots of field goals will be kicked.

Spencer Hughes

5 points: Jacksonville over New England

The story of this year in football – with the Rams bouncing back into competitiveness and Nick Foles and Case Keenum leading teams into the conference title round – are the little guys who finally have a chance, and no one is more of a little guy in the NFL than the Jacksonville Jaguars. Come to think of it, no team is more of an opposite to a little guy than New England. So with stellar defense, competent (enough) quarterback play, and all of DUUUUUUUVAL behind them, the Jags continue the story of 2017-18 with a win as iconic as the blue Main Street Bridge or as sweet as a cherry limeade. I don’t care that this is the Patriots’ seventh-straight AFC Championship Game. I don’t care that they’ll be in Boston. This team is #DTWD (Duval ‘Til We Die)… and they’re not dead yet.

5 points: Minnesota over Philadelphia

The Immaculate Reception. Montana to Clark in the back of the end zone. David Tyree’s Super Bowl helmet catch. And now, the Minneapolis Miracle. Watch it right now.

Seriously. Watch it.

Now watch it again, from another angle with just crowd noise.

Try the first one again.

How about one from the Vikings Radio Network with Paul Allen?

OK, I’m done now. (No, I’m not, and I will never be.) The Vikings win, because I simply cannot pick against this team after last week. But they might lose – of course I know that. All I ask is that is that, if it must happen, it not be in 2009 heart-destroying fashion.

But the Vikings ain’t losing. Everson Griffen was all of us last week. Minnesota just has the mojo.

Matthias Schwartzkopf

8 points: New England over Jacksonville

The Jaguars will give Tom Brady all he can handle, but New England’s experience and a less-than-stellar passing attack from Blake Bortles will win out here. Patriots advance.

2 points: Philadelphia over Minnesota

This will be a defensive battle. The Eagles’ offense has potential to be explosive, but Nick Foles holds that back a bit. Minnesota, coming off an emotional win, will play well enough – but I’m just so unsure on this game that I am going with the home team.

Jacqueline Cordova

7 points: New England over Jacksonville

Like I said before, the Patriots and Tom Brady are seriously like some kind of magical unicorns. So I have zero doubt in my mind they’re walking out of this game heading to the Super Bowl.

3 points: Minnesota over Philadelphia

I’m pretty superstitious, and last week, the Vikings made history when I had them winning with three confidence points. So I’m going to go ahead and give them the same amount this time. #Skol, baby – bring it on home, because I have all the confidence in this team.

Shaun Curran

8 points: Jacksonville over New England

At this point, I’m so far behind I need to do something crazy… something crazy like the Jags making the AFC Championship! You’ve got the GOAT and that offense versus the best defense (in my opinion) since the 84/85 Bears. Jalen Ramsey & Barry Church sharing time on Gronk, AJ Bouye on Hogan, and Telvin Smith roaming the backfield hunting for stragglers, Tommy Boy is gonna have a hard time finding open targets. And putting that Patriots’ offensive line against Calais Campbell, Myles Jack and Malik Jackson, I think that handsome Brady goes down at least five times in the 1st half. They’re gonna rely on short passes and the run… and if Fournette can mimic last week while Bortles plays like the good little game manager he can be, the we’re looking at Duval County ready to shock the world!!

2 points: Minnesota over Philadelphia

Two Jeff Fisher proteges in the NFC Championship game. That’s almost as crazy as the Jags being one game away from the Super Bowl. I bet against this Vikings Team of Destiny too many times this season to make the same mistake. Something special is happening here – and after the Miracle in Minnesota, I believe.

Nicole Gustafson

6 points: Minnesota over Philadelphia

Basically, this is a hedge. I documented my feelings about the Vikings in no uncertain terms last week and I was ridiculously anxious during the game. This time, I’m going to be happy either way. If they win, I have to listen to more talk but I also pick up some points. If they lose, well, I may a few gifs in mind already. The Eagles have definitely shown some resilience and this is the one road game the Vikings face, but the Minnesota defense did an excellent job against the Saints for three quarters last week. I don’t think Nick Foles has enough weapons around him to mount the comeback that New Orleans did.

4 points: Jacksonville over New England

I actually had New England written down as my pick. But then I thought, after accidentally sitting out the Wild Card round and having a poor (albeit 10 seconds from respectable) showing last week, I have nothing to lose. I want to see that Sacksonville defense knock Tom Brady down and I want the offense that scored 45 points on the Steelers to show up. The Patriots will certainly be one of the best teams the Jaguars have faced this year, but they absolutely believe they can beat New England and now I’m on board, too.

Spencer Hughes
Spencer Hughes 17 Articles
Staff Writer

Spencer is a Cedar Rapids, Iowa native currently located in Jacksonville, Florida. He holds degrees from Iowa State University (B.A., 2014) and Duke University (J.D., 2017) where he learned that you can't choose which is better between Hilton Coliseum and Cameron Indoor Stadium; they're just different. Spencer is a lifelong fan of the Iowa State Cyclones, Minnesota Vikings, Scott's Tots, St. Louis Cardinals, and the Oxford comma. He will discuss college football playoff scenarios or health care legislation with you whenever you want.

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